Top News from Israel & Palestine: September 1, 2021

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New from FMEP

[Webinar] Palestinian Protests and the Future of the Palestinian Struggle,

Since the Palestinian Authority’s killing of political activist Nizar Banat in June, Palestinians have been holding protests in Ramallah and other parts of the West Bank. The PA has responded with tear gas, stun grenades, and harassment of human rights defenders and journalists, in what has been described as a “concerted crackdown on freedom of speech and the right to peaceful protest.” In recent weeks, dozens of protesters – including prominent human rights activists – were detained by PA security forces. While the detainees have since been released, the crackdown highlights the Palestinian leadership’s diminishing tolerance for dissent as well as a deeper crisis of legitimacy. What’s behind these latest protests as well as the PA’s crackdown against them? What is the relationship between the protests in Ramallah and recent Palestinian popular political mobilizations in Gaza, Jerusalem, and inside the Green Line? And what do these Palestinian initiatives mean for the overarching struggle against ongoing Israeli occupation and dispossession?  To shed light on these and other issues, the Middle East Institute (MEI) and Foundation for Foundation for Middle East Peace (FMEP) are pleased to invite you to join a public webinar featuring: Dr. Hanan Ashrawi – Palestinian leader and critic of the PA’s repression of Palestinian popular protest – together with Fadi Quran, a prominent activist who was among those recently detained by the PA.


Israel approves steps to ease Gaza Strip blockade,

“Israel on Wednesday approved a series of measures easing its blockade of the Gaza Strip, including opening the main commercial crossing with the Palestinian enclave to imports…COGAT, the Israeli defense body responsible for Palestinian civilian affairs, said in a statement that the government approved expanding the Gaza Strip’s fishing zone, opening the Kerem Shalom Crossing, increasing water supply to the territory, and increasing the number of Gazan merchants allowed to enter Israel.”


More Coverage

Palestinians riot along Gaza border for 4th night, after Israel allows goods in,

“Hundreds of Palestinians demonstrated on the border between the Gaza Strip and Israel on Tuesday for a fourth straight night of riots. Gazans from so-called “night confusion units” set tires alight and rolled them toward soldiers stationed along the frontier, and lobbed improvised explosives, in a repeat of violence seen along the border the previous three nights. As Israeli troops responded, the Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza said that one Palestinian was moderately wounded from Israel Defense Forces live fire.”

Gazans fear worst after Hamas bans water wells,

“Palestinians living in the border areas of the Gaza Strip rely on wells to secure drinking water and to irrigate their crops, as the Hamas-run local municipalities fail to assume their responsibility to supply water to these areas. In an Aug. 25 statement, the Hamas-affiliated Water and Environment Quality Authority announced a ban against the digging of water wells in all Gaza governorates, under the pretext of fighting a severe decline in groundwater levels and quality due to over-exploitation of the aquifer into which the wells are drilled…The authority further called on all citizens who already drilled water wells to rectify their legal status in the next three months by obtaining a license to avoid legal accountability. Gazans, however, believe this ban is only designed to obtain money in exchange for issuing licenses for drilling wells.”

Why Gaza's popular protest movement has returned,

“”Because of the tragic living conditions, even if they do not support Hamas or the other political parties, Palestinians have resumed their popular protests at the eastern borders,” Hussam al-Dajani, a Gaza-based political analyst, told The New Arab. He said that Israel insists on punishing all Palestinians in the coastal enclave by tightening its blockade and delaying the construction of Gaza after each war. Unfortunately, he says, Israel is trying to impose a complicated equation on Palestinians; either death by starvation or death by the bullets of its soldiers, whether through war or the killing of demonstrators on the border. With few other avenues to effect positive changes to their reality, many are willing to risk their lives.”

The West Bank & East Jerusalem

Palestinian With Israeli Citizenship Shot Dead in West Bank,

“Israeli soldiers shot and killed a Palestinian holding Israeli citizenship in the West Bank overnight, the Palestinian health ministry said on Wednesday. Village residents said there were no disturbances or clashes in the area at the time of the shooting, which occurred at a checkpoint near the village of Beit Ur Al-Tahta, west of the city of Ramallah. The man, 39-year-old Raed Youssef Jadallah, was shot after he came to pick up his son who was returning from work in Israel, they said. His son found him dead as he was trying to reach him on the phone. Jadallah, who worked as a gardener in Israel, was a father of four children. Council head Wagya Ottman said this is a cold-blooded murder. “The soldiers shot [Rashad] with no apparent reason,” he added. The Palestinian health ministry did not provide further details. The Israeli army stated that the incident occurred during a stakeout, when soldiers from the Kfir Brigade noticed an individual lighting a small fire. The unit shot at the individual, who fled the scene, and the soldiers then proceeded to put out the fire. When they inspected the area, they didn’t see any blood or lighter fluid.”

Also See

Israeli bulldozers demolish two houses in Bethlehem-district village,

The Israeli occupation authorities today demolished two Palestinian houses in the village of Beit Ta‘mir, east of Bethlehem, according to an activist. Director of the Anti-Wall and Settlement Commission, Hassan Breija, said that an Israeli military force escorted two bulldozers to the village, where the heavy machineries tore down two houses under construction purportedly for being built without permits. Owner of the demolished structures was identified as Elayyan Zawahreh. Meanwhile, WAFA correspondent confirmed that Israeli forces tore down another house belonging to Nasri Sbeih in Harmala village, east of Bethlehem.”

Israeli forces demolish agricultural structures near Nablus,

“Israeli forces Wednesday demolished three agricultural structures in the village of Duma, south of the occupied West Bank city of Nablus, local sources confirmed. Ghassan Daghlas, who monitors Israeli settlement activities in the north of the West Bank, told WAFA that the Israeli bulldozers demolished in the early morning hours an agricultural structure owned by local resident Faris Salawdeh, and two more owned by a resident from Jerusalem. Israeli forces continuously target that area under the pretext that it’s located in Area C.”

Palestine to "soon" get long-awaited 4G services,

“Palestine will soon get the long-awaited 4G services, announced a Palestinian official on Tuesday. Fatah Central Committee member and Head of the General Authority of Civil Affairs, Hussein Al Sheikh, announced that Palestine would soon move beyond the third-generation (3G) to the fourth-generation (4G) mobile capabilities, which he hailed as a “leap in the world of communication.” “The 4G service will soon be available in Palestine, which is a leap of quality in the world of communication and an upgrade in the level of service,” he tweeted.”

West Bank anger boils as Jenin becomes hotbed of resistance,

“Public rage is ongoing, expressions of distrust in the PA agencies resound, allegations of PA corruption accompanied by sarcasm have intensified, and violent clashes between clans have multiplied, while the PA security forces are afraid to intervene. “Security control in Jenin has been weakened, and the activity of ‘armed local gangs’ has recently made it necessary for the IDF [Israeli army] to take action in the area in order to prevent ‘terrorist attacks’,” said Tzoreff. Palestinian political analysts concurred as to the fragile situation in the West Bank. Writing in Quds News online, Hassan Lafi said Jenin, specifically the refugee camp, was a top priority and strategic target for the Israeli military as it battles to control the alley camps. According to Lafi, there was an Israeli realisation that any delay in dealing with Jenin meant that it could turn into an inspiring model for the entire West Bank.”

Monitoring the Treatment of Children Held in Israeli Military Detention [Annual Report],

“- The impact on child detention of the outbreak of Corona virus in Israel and the West Bank in February 2020, included: an initial decrease in the number of night raids conducted by the Israeli military on Palestinian homes – this may account for the reduction in the number of night arrests documented; the establishment of quarantine sections in some prisons; the cancellation of family visits to prisons; the installation of phones in most prisons enabling some children to contact their parents between 2-8 times per month; restrictions on access to military courts for parents and observers; and the use of video links for court appearances.”

The Palestinian Scene

Nizar Banat’s death highlights brutality of Palestinian Authority,

“Other people are critics of the PA, but no one was like Nizar. He was articulate: he could join the dots in a way others couldn’t, dismantling the PA’s lies with truth,” said Fadi Quran, a prominent human rights activist who has been arrested several times by both Israeli and Palestinian forces. “The fact he used to be a member of Fatah himself also made him a threat. He was not just speaking to the opposition, but directly to their base,” he said over coffee at a gathering of activists in a Ramallah cafe. “He was their biggest weakness,” added Fares Bader, a young man also at the forefront of the new wave of demonstrations against the authority. “The PA wants to deter us and distract us, stop the popular momentum that has been building against it. But instead, killing Nizar has become a catalyst.”

President Abbas arrives in Cairo for official visit,

President Mahmoud Abbas today arrived in Cairo for an official visit. He was received at Cairo International Airport by Egyptian Minister of Youth and Sports Ashraf Sobhy, Egypt’s Ambassador to Palestine Tarek Tayel,  Palestine’s Ambassador to Egypt Diab Al-Louh, in addition to a delegation from the Egyptian General Intelligence and staff from the Palestinian embassy in Cairo.’

Palestine confirms 2,675 new coronavirus cases, eight deaths,

“Palestine today confirmed 2,675 new Covid-19 cases and eight death cases, according to Health Minister Mai al-Kaileh. She announced that 2,675 Palestinians tested positive for the highly contagious virus and eight others died of it in the occupied territories. As part of the 2,675 new cases, 1,262 cases were registered in the West Bank and 1,413 others in the Gaza Strip.” Related – “ Vaccination rates among Palestinians dwindling amid sceptism and low supplies” (The New Arab)

Abbas' meeting with Gantz unlikely to soothe Palestinians,

“A Palestinian source intimately involved in the deliberations of the Palestinian president told Al-Monitor that the meeting should be seen as part of Israel’s obligations under the agreements it has signed. The source said that Palestine made no political payment in return for whatever concessions Israel may have made. Some Palestinian commentators argue, however, that by celebrating some improvements of life under occupation, the Palestinians are complicit in perpetuating the status quo of a permanent occupation. Diana Buttu, a former adviser to the Palestinian negotiating team, described the Israeli approach in a tweet: “The equation is always the same: occupied must give the occupier a safe space to carry out war crimes. In exchange we get bread.” Palestinian writer and analyst Kamel Hawwash told Al-Monitor his impression was that the meeting seemed to cover issues important to Israel but not steps to end the occupation. “By accepting the agenda and seeing this meeting as a positive step, the PA moves further away from the people, despite considering Israeli indications of economic improvement as positive.” Hawwash argued that Israel‘s prime minister is likely to be “responding to Biden’s indication that improving the economic situation for Palestinians is desirable, hence the timing.” Nour Odeh, a political analyst and a founding member of the Palestinian National Democratic Assembly, found the meeting scandalous. Speaking to Al-Monitor, she expressed his shock at “a meeting at this level to discuss anything except politics,” adding that Abbas “is conditioning dialogue with Hamas on their agreeing, in writing, to accept international resolutions,” yet at the same time “is willing to meet with Gantz without any political foundation. There does not seem to be an end to this slippery slope.”

'48 Israel

Conscientious objector: ‘I don’t want to wear a uniform that symbolizes violence and pain’,

“On Tuesday morning, dozens supporters, including Joint List MK Ofer Cassif, accompanied both Perets and conscientious objector Eran Aviv — who will enter his fourth stint behind bars — to Tel Hashomer induction base in central Israel, where they both told the army they would not serve. Aviv has spent a total of 54 days in military prison for refusing to serve in the army. Perets and Aviv were each sentenced to 10 days behind bars. After they are released, they will have to return to the induction base and repeat the process until the army decides to discharge them…“I decided to refuse [service] after participating in a meeting in eighth grade between Palestinians and Israelis at a summer camp,” Perets told me. “I met Palestinian friends, I realized that I do not want to hurt them, I do not want to meet them as a soldier and become their enemy. I do not want to take part in a system that oppresses them on a daily basis.””

New undercover police unit formed to clamp down on crime in Arab communities,

“The Israel Police on Tuesday unveiled a new undercover unit tasked with tackling rampant crime and violence in Arab Israeli communities. The Sinai Unit was introduced in a ceremony attended by Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai. It will include 45 undercover officers, who will target hotspots and organized crime in Arab communities throughout the country. It will be the first undercover unit tasked with combating crime, rather than terrorism, and will be tasked primarily with enforcement among Israeli citizens.”

After Officer's Death at Gaza Border, Public Rage Is Directed at the Israeli Army – and Bennett,

“A video posted by the Palestinians involved in the incident, the Shmueli family’s reaction and now the soldier’s death have led to intense public commotion. A broad campaign underway on social media by soldiers, including reservists, is attacking the IDF’s policies and accusing its commanders of tying soldiers’ hands and endangering their lives. The real sentiments awakened by the incident have therefore been mingled with media populism, and, as usual, political considerations as well.”

A government with 2 heads: Bennett and Gantz lead coordinated, opposing policies,

“As of now, Israel’s 36th government seems to be divided into two distinct camps with contradictory approaches to the peace process with the Palestinians. Each is advancing its own agenda, but both appear to be okay and even comfortable with the situation…Bennett and Gantz held a lengthy meeting on Tuesday. According to Army Radio, the prime minister told the Blue and White party leader that he didn’t like the “media festival” surrounding Gantz’s visit to Ramallah. But Gantz’s associates are saying his relationship with Bennett is great and that it is Yesh Atid party leader Yair Lapid who is fanning conflict within the coalition. Meanwhile, Bennett’s office denied a report on Wednesday that said he was to attend a meeting in the near future with the leaders of Egypt, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority. Asharq Al-Awsat, an Arabic-language newspaper based in London, reported that the rare four-party summit was set to take place in the Sinai Peninsula’s Sharm El-Sheikh and feature Bennett, Abbas, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi and Jordanian King Abdullah II.”

Israel's Bennett was not axed from Cairo regional conference, spokesperson says,

“The Yamina leader’s spokesperson said an article claiming Bennett was axed from a summit with the leaders of Palestine, Jordan and Egypt was incorrect.”

The U.S. & U.S.-Israeli Relations

Israel opposes U.S. plan to reopen Jerusalem embassy as 'destabilising',

“Israel said on Wednesday that a U.S. plan to reopen its consulate in Jerusalem that has traditionally been a base for diplomatic outreach to Palestinians is a “bad idea” and could destabilise Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s new government…”We think it’s a bad idea,” Foreign Minister Yair Lapid told a news conference when asked about the reopening. “Jerusalem is the sovereign capital of Israel and Israel alone, and therefore we don’t think it’s a good idea. “We know that the (Biden) administration has a different way of looking at this, but since it is happening in Israel, we are sure they are listening to us very carefully.””


Also See

Democratic Senators Head to Israel, West Bank in First Visit Since Bennett Took Charge,

“Sen. Chris Murphy, Chairman of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee that deals with the Middle East, is leading the group, which also includes Sens. Jon Ossoff, Chris Van Hollen and Richard Blumenthal. The senators have each been notably outspoken on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict during their respective tenures, being among the most vocal proponents in Washington urging the Israeli government to improve treatment of the Palestinians and pushing the Biden administration to take a more active role in dealing with the conflict. “New leadership and simmering crises dot the landscape of the Mediterranean right now,” the senators said in a joint statement. “We look forward to speaking directly with key actors in the region, especially the new Israeli government and Palestinian leadership.” they continued, adding that “America must be a force for good in the Middle East and North Africa, and we look forward to a productive trip.””

Israel promotes military handler of agent who spied on U.S.,

“Israel is granting a promotion to the handler of an agent who spied on the United States, more than 30 years after the episode strained U.S.-Israel ties and less than a year after the handler was pardoned by former President Donald Trump. Ex-air force officer Aviem Sella, who handled former spy Jonathan Pollard, will be promoted to the rank of brigadier general, the army said in a statement Wednesday. The army chief of staff and Defense Minister Benny Gantz approved the move. Trump granted a full pardon to Sella on the president’s final day in office earlier this year. Sella was the Israeli military’s U.S.-based handler for Pollard, a former Navy intelligence analyst who sold military secrets to Israel while working at the Pentagon in the 1980s. The Pollard case severely strained relations between Israel and the U.S.”

Defunding nonprofit racism, from New York to Palestine,

“Now, a newly launched coalition, Defund Racism, is shedding light on some of these groups, which funnel millions of tax-deductible dollars every year to settlement projects, at US taxpayers’ expense. As Mohammed el-Kurd, Muna’s twin brother, explains: “We often speak about settler-colonialism, and we say it, and it’s this term that’s often academic, and we use it to describe what’s going on. But when you come and look at it and how it manifests – how this settler-colonialism crystalises in real life – it is these settler organisations that actively work to displace Palestinians or isolate Palestinian communities from one another in the Naqab, in occupied 48 territories, or in the West Bank.” “

Free Speech, Media, & Big Tech

Politico employees will not have to sign pro-Israel mission statement,

“Ben Smith hid a significant nugget deep within his latest New York Times story, on the billion-dollar sale of Politico: The magazine and news site’s new owners, German publishing powerhouse Axel Springer, will not require its newly acquired American employees to sign the company mission statement pledging support of Israel.